Bank of America Bolsters Green Image while Bankrolling U.S. Coal Industry

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New Corporate Social Responsibility report does not reduce carbon-intensive coal investments
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

For Immediate Release

August 15, 2012

CONTACTS:

Kerul Dyer, (415) 866-0005

SAN FRANCISCO–Today, Bank of America released its 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report that fails to address its most significant environmental impact, coal financing. The bank instead points to internal operational improvements to address sustainability, which contributes a small fraction of emissions to global climate change, in comparison to the bank’s fossil fuel investments.

In response to the report release, Amanda Starbuck, Director of the Energy and Finance Program at Rainforest Action Network, issued the following statement:

“Bank of America wants to have it both ways; it wants to appear as a responsible corporate actor but still benefit from destructive coal mining and coal-fired utilities. Its CSR report reeks of hypocrisy as it profits at the expense of communities and our environment while also identifying itself as a climate champion.

“Bank of America claims to be “working to finance the transition to a lower-carbon future”, yet commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency only make progress towards greening its own image. To stem the impending climate crisis, however, the burning of coal must be phased out of the U.S. energy grid.

“According to its CSR report, Bank of America acknowledges the impact of these investments by reporting on emissions of utilities in its lending portfolio. However, the bank’s reporting methodology is flawed and non-transparent. As it has in the past, the bank only reports on emissions from 75% of its utility portfolio, providing an incomplete assessment of emissions associated with the bank’s lending activities. Absent clearer disclosure, it remains unclear whether the bank is actually shifting its lending away from the most coal-intensive utilities or whether the bank’s lending practices have lagged a national shift away from coal-fired power generation and towards cleaner alternatives.

“Bank of America’s Environmental Business Initiative, while a step in the right direction, is insufficient to offset the environmental damage caused by its lending practices. The $3.65 billion lending component of BofA’s 2011 commitment represents less than half a percent of the bank’s total loans and leases as of December 2011 ($926 billion). In contrast, the bank charged off more than four times as much in bad debt during 2011 ($20.8 billion). Were the bank to offset the emissions from its utility portfolio in 2011, we estimate that the cost would far exceed this $3.65 billion amount.

“This report fails to address Bank of America’s position as the number one underwriter of the coal mining industry or report plans for reducing fossil fuel investments. In fact, the record shows increases in spending. In 2010 and 2011, Bank of America provided $6.4 billion in underwriting for U.S. coal.

“Bank of America has its hands in a dirty business, where the drive for profit outweighs consequences like human and environmental catastrophes associated with climate change. The bank is the largest financier of the coal industry in the U.S., and funds every stage of coal’s life cycle­. It spends billions each year underwriting destructive mountaintop removal mining and utilities that operate coal-burning power plants.

“It’s time for Bank of America to phase out funding for the coal industry. The impacts on the climate and public health make it a dangerous investment. Bank of America’s best course forward would be to end its investment in fossil fuels.”

For more information on Bank of America’s coal investments visit: www.ran.org/bank-america

Bank of America’s New CSR report can be found here: http://about.bankofamerica.com/en-us/global-impact/csr-report.html#fbid=w-MDl2R4JzP

 

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org